fy2000 link to home page department of interior

logo for the US Department of the InteriorThe U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA continued their partnership to manage the Landsat-7 satellite, providing important new data to the global science and operational user communities. USGS assumed complete mission operation responsibility for Landsat-7 from NASA in October 2000, and USGS continued to have responsibility for Landsat-7 data collection, archiving, and distribution. NASA shared its expertise in mission management with USGS staff and conducted research in the technical characteristics and the potential uses of Landsat data. At the end of FY 2001, nearly 200,000 scenes of Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) data were collected for the U.S. archive at the USGS Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center. Total Earth coverage, including record amounts of repetitive coverage, exceeds 6.2 billion square kilometers. USGS successfully supported the Landsat-7 International Cooperator Network by downlinking approximately 350 scenes per day to 16 operational Landsat-7 ground receiving stations. Eight ground stations are now submitting metadata on a regular basis.

The commercial operator of the Landsat-5 satellite officially relinquished commercial rights to market Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data on July 1, 2001. The operator had informed USGS earlier that it would no longer support the operation of Landsats 4 and 5 at no cost to the Government. Because USGS manages Landsat-7 operations, it assumed responsibility for Landsat-5 operations and continued to operate Landsat-5 through FY 2001. Landsat-4 was decommissioned in June 2001 because it was no longer able to provide useful data.

The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 requires U.S. Government Landsat Program Management (NASA and USGS) to "assess options for a successor land remote-sensing system to Landsat 7." NASA and the USGS proceeded with a two-step procurement strategy for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) under which the private sector would provide multispectral digital image data for global coverage of the Earth’s land mass on a seasonal basis and in a manner that ensures continuity with the Landsat-7 mission. In FY 2001, NASA requested industry comment on a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for a set of Formulation Phase contracts. In response to the final RFP for this phase, NASA may award several contracts in FY 2002 to companies that will develop plans for a mission that is mutually beneficial to the Government and the private sector. The winning contractor for the Implementation Phase will deliver data as specified in the LDCM Data Specification for the 5-year period starting in 2006, with an option to extend the contract for a second 5-year period.

Landsat data were used in many studies of human-induced and natural alterations to the Earth during FY 2001. For example, USGS collected Landsat-7 ETM+ data over Siren, Wisconsin, on June 18, 2001, the day after a tornado destroyed much of the community; the data clearly showed the geographic extent of the affected area. State and Federal emergency response agencies used the data to study the path of the tornado and to assess its effects on the communities involved by comparing that scene with one collected shortly before the storm.

The Land Cover Trends project is a 4-year collaborative research project between USGS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA to use Landsat and other data to document the rates, driving forces, and consequences of land use and land cover change over the past 30 years for the conterminous United States. The project is based on the hypothesis that land cover changes unevenly over time and space. In order to understand and manage the consequences of the change, it is necessary to have reliable information on the forces that cause change and the actual rates of change from time-to-time and from place-to-place. During FY 2001, project scientists began to determine the rates of change for 84 regions of the conterminous United States, using a probability sample methodology with over 800 20-km by 20-km sites and Landsat data covering five dates from 1972 to 2000. Preliminary results showed that land cover has changed little between 1972 and 1992 in some regions such as North Central Appalachia in Pennsylvania and New York. In other areas, such as the Northern Piedmont stretching from New Jersey through Virginia, there has been significant conversion of agricultural land to urban cover.

With funding support from NASA, primary team members from the USGS Astrogeology Program had outstanding success supporting several missions in the FY 2001 NASA Planetary Science Program, and they hold leadership roles on several future missions. USGS is part of the imaging team on the Galileo spacecraft's continuing survey of Jupiter’s largest moons. Galileo returned image and geophysical data as it closed to within 180 km of Jupiter’s moon, Io, passing through the sulfurous snowflakes of one of its volcanic plumes. The Mars Global Surveyor collected spectacular images of Mars with the Mars Observer Camera and the Thermal Emission Spectrometer, especially of the largest global dust storm on Mars in over 20 years. As Mars 2001 Odyssey reached orbit, USGS team members collected data to help determine the distribution of minerals on the surface of Mars and how that relates to its geological landforms.

USGS leads the combination camera-and-spectrometer instrument on the Deep Space 1 probe that had a successful encounter with comet Borrelly, returning images of the 10-km-long "bowling-pin-shaped" nucleus of that comet from only 2,200 kilometers away. USGS leads the micro-imager camera team on the Mars Excursion Rover mission that will be launched in 2003. Astrogeology scientists are also part of the primary camera team for the ultra-high spatial resolution (25 cm) camera on the Mars 2005 orbiter.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) used IKONOS 1-meter-resolution pan-sharpened multispectral stereo satellite imagery covering active western and eastern coal mines for regulatory purposes, including review of coal mining permits, making topographic measurements at active coal mines, and ensuring that mine operators comply with regulations. OSMRE successfully orthorectified this imagery by collecting high-accuracy global positioning system (GPS) ground control and generating digital elevation model products from the IKONOS stereo pairs on a photogrammetric workstation.

OSMRE used its Technology Information Processing System to distribute Landsat orthorectified imagery mosaics (imagery from approximately 1990) of the conterminous 48 States to over 70 State agencies, tribes, and OSMRE field offices involved in surface coal mining to promote the use of remote sensing. OSMRE installed a terabyte imagery server in Denver and began testing software to distribute the data to agencies and tribes involved in surface coal mine permitting issues. OSMRE personnel conducted briefings and training sessions during the year to expand the use of remotely sensed data within the agency and to stimulate its full integration with geographic information systems (GIS), GPS, and mobile computing activities.

OSMRE continued to acquire and successfully use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) imagery for detailed topographic mapping at abandoned mine land sites and active coal mines. OSMRE also acquired standard aerial photography products from commercial vendors and used airborne GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit data to lower the overall cost of internal production of orthophotography. OSMRE used GPS technology in FY 2001 in surface mine reclamation verification, technical assistance projects, and training. OSMRE mine inspectors routinely used GPS on large western surface mines for navigation and field verification of mine features such as channels, surface depressions, and reclaimed topography. OSMRE used GPS in Midwestern States to map acid mine drainage discharges and to locate and inventory abandoned mine entries. In the Eastern States, OSMRE technical staff mapped domestic wells and home sites to aid in resolving complaints of water loss due to the impact of mining activities on ground water flow.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resource specialists used a wide variety of remote-sensing technologies in FY 2001 to inventory and monitor public lands that were under increased pressure for energy and mineral resource extraction, as well as urban growth. Data from traditional and digital aerial cameras, and multispectral and hyperspectral sensors were supplemented by GPS and GIS to support management activities associated with wildlife habitat, wilderness, recreation, rangeland, timber, fire, minerals, and hazardous materials.

In FY 2001, BLM specialists used Landsat TM data to map a variety of landscape components, including: vegetation and invasive species for five Southwestern States–Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah (in partnership with USGS); leafy spurge, an invasive plant species in Wyoming; increased soil detail throughout the Western U.S.; sage grouse habitat as an input to conservation planning for the 11 BLM-managed Western States; and riparian wetland areas in South Park, Colorado. Landsat TM data were also used to map hazardous fuels in the 11 Western States that BLM manages, and to develop hydrologic and terrain landscape models to support identification of rangeland health indicators in western Colorado. BLM personnel analyzed NOAA Advanced Very-High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite data for detection of cheatgrass, an invasive species, in the Great Basin region to support vegetation restoration efforts following wildland fire.

BLM used digital orthophoto quadrangles to identify off-highway vehicle routes for land use assessments on BLM-managed lands. Color-infrared and black-and-white aerial photographs were used to assess riparian conditions in numerous Western States. BLM personnel mapped historical changes in pinyon-juniper communities in western Utah to support site-specific fuels management. Airborne Data Acquisition and Registration (ADAR) multispectral camera data were used to monitor vegetation succession following wildland fire in northern Wyoming. AURORA hyperspectral data were collected to develop a hazardous waste materials inventory for remediation efforts on BLM-managed lands; for coal bed methane inventory in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming; and to inventory an invasive plant species in Wyoming.

The National Park Service (NPS) used Landsat, SPOT, and IKONOS satellite data, along with conventional aerial photography, LIDAR data, and digital orthophotography to map and monitor land cover, vegetation, cultural features, and other specific features in many national parks. Approximately 400 GPS receivers were used for mapping and navigation to support a variety of NPS resource management and park maintenance applications.

NPS continued to work with USGS to map vegetation and obtain uniform baseline data on the composition and distribution of vegetation types for 270 U.S. national park units. Vegetation mapping was completed in FY 2001 for Badlands (South Dakota), Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota), Voyageurs (Minnesota), Isle Royale (Michigan), and Rock Creek (District of Colombia) National Parks. The pace of mapping increased substantially in FY 2001, with work beginning in 29 new park units. For comparison, mapping was performed in a total of only 30 parks since the program began in 1994.

Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and USGS personnel used NASA Advanced Visible and Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) hyperspectral data of a portion of the Owyhee Basin in eastern Oregon to map surface minerals and identify source areas of mercury within the basin that are contributing to the high levels of mercury found in Reclamation’s Owyhee Reservoir. These high mercury levels exceed standards set for fish and wildlife populations, and have resulted in advisories being placed on the consumption of fish taken from the reservoir. Preliminary maps of mercury source areas have been produced; when these maps are finalized, they could be used to institute land-management practices to retard the influx of mercury into the reservoir.

The California Central Valley Project Improvement Act Biological Opinion requires that data on wildlife habitat change be used in water-related negotiations with irrigation districts and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). BOR image analysts used multitemporal Landsat TM data of the Central Valley to identify such areas of change between 1993 and 2000. Areas that changed between 1993 and 2000 will be mapped again using 1:120,000-scale aerial photography acquired in 2001. This two-tiered approach reduced overall costs by focusing more expensive high-resolution image acquisitions on specific areas identified using the Landsat data. These data will also be incorporated into the Statewide change detection project being coordinated by the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry.

BOR continued to use Landsat TM, Indian Remote-Sensing Satellite multispectral and panchromatic data, and USGS digital orthophoto quarterquads to map agricultural crops in the Colorado River basin, the Lahontan Basin in Nevada, and the Central Valley of California. Water managers used irrigation status and crop-type data with crop water use coefficients and locally varying climate data to calculate agricultural consumptive water use.

BOR continued mapping flood inundation perimeters and depths below reclamation dams. Image analysts developed high-accuracy digital elevation models (DEMs) from multireturn airborne LIDAR data. Hydraulic engineers used these DEMs in conjunction with one- or two-dimensional hydraulic models to predict flood water perimeters and depths for specific time intervals that would result from a theoretical dam breach or spill event. GIS analysts overlaid maps of maximum wetted area and maximum depth onto geographically referenced population and infrastructure data derived from USGS, the Census Bureau, Department of Transportation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other Federal agencies to determine the human and economic impacts of the modeled flood events.

During FY 2001, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) used remote sensing and GPS to support BIA and tribal initiatives to map land use, inventory natural resources, conduct environmental assessments, support Safety of Dams program initiatives, and map and inventory irrigation systems. Application specialists used digital orthophotography, National Aerial Photography Program (NAPP) aerial photography, National Elevation Dataset (NED) data, Digital Raster Graphics (DRG), and IKONOS satellite imagery as backdrops for modeling inundation zones associated with the potential catastrophic failure of earthen dams. BIA personnel also collected GPS data on high-priority dams under BIA jurisdiction. BIA personnel developed inundation maps for input to Emergency Action Plans for five dams during the reporting period.

Commercial GPS receivers were used to collect data for 1,539 ditch miles and 19,518 associated structures in BIA-managed irrigation systems. In addition, digital aerial photographs with GPS coordinates were collected for all structures. These data sets were combined to map irrigation system and structure condition on seven major BIA Irrigation Projects on Indian Reservations in the Western United States. Aerial photos and satellite data were also key components in the mapping process in both the Irrigation and Safety of Dams Projects. The BIA also continued its use of the Precision Lightweight GPS Receivers (PLGRs) to access the DoD Navstar GPS Precise Positioning Service (PPS), primarily at the field office level. The PLGRs are being phased out, where appropriate, in favor of commercial systems as the life span of PLGRs is being reached.

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) supported University of Colorado scientists in research on satellite altimetry using the TOPEX/Poseidon and European Remote Sensing-2 (ERS-2) satellites. This work has improved estimates of sea surface height and ocean currents, particularly for the large Loop Current eddies in the Gulf of Mexico. Accurate ocean currents are important for estimating oil spill trajectories and can affect offshore oil and gas operations.

MMS continued to use GPS data to assist in determining baseline points that are used to delineate offshore boundaries in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Accurate boundaries were needed to support Territorial Submerged Lands jurisdictions, as well as a proposed national monument for protection of coral reefs around the islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix.

The USGS and BLM used Landsat-7, RADARSAT-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images to investigate glacier dynamics and change at Bering Glacier, Alaska. The observations are used to map the retreat of the glacier terminus as it undergoes large-scale calving in Vitus Lake. Vitus Lake is now expanding, and a marine ecosystem is rapidly evolving. The stability of the ice dam that impounds water in Berg Lake remained under study to assess potential hazards should the dam fail.

The USGS and the French Space Agency (CNES) have developed multi-sensor techniques to estimate snow pack thickness and water equivalent from microwave instruments. The combination of passive microwave observations obtained by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite and the dual frequency TOPEX/Poseidon radar altimetry measurements have yielded more accurate snow depths than previously attained by SSM/I observations when the technique was applied to the U.S. Northern Great Plains, with the heavy snow year of 1997 used as a test case.

Cleveland Volcano in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, sent ash plumes across the air lanes of the North Pacific three times in February and March 2001. Scientists at the USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory detected the ash clouds by using data from meteorological satellites, Landsat 7, and other sources, and quickly informed Federal and State agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Weather Service, and local Air Force installations, of the hazard. These ash clouds disrupted international air traffic in the busy North Pacific corridor during the first 48 hours after each of the explosions. Timely information on the position of ash clouds helps minimize both the cost of such eruptions to the airlines and the danger and inconvenience they pose to the public. Satellite data was the main monitoring tool for this eruption because Cleveland Volcano (which has erupted at least 11 times since 1893) was not yet monitored seismically at the end of the fiscal year.

In FY 2001, USGS scientists used SAR data from the ERS satellites and the interferometric SAR (InSAR) technique to detect uplift of the ground surface over a broad area centered 5 kilometers west of South Sister Volcano in the Three Sisters region of the central Oregon Cascade Range. The initial uplift, which occurred between 1996 and 2000, covers an area about 15 to 20 km in diameter, with the maximum amount of uplift being about 10 centimeters. Close aerial inspections of the area revealed no unusual surface features. Scientists from the Cascades Volcano Observatory installed a seismometer near the center of the area to see if there are any earthquakes associated with the deformation. The uplift, which is most likely caused by intrusion of magma, appeared from InSAR analysis results to be continuing. The USGS continued to monitor the area to assess the probability of an eruption. This was the first successful use of the InSAR technique in the Cascades region.

USGS also used the InSAR technique to study land surface deformation associated with natural recharge in the San Bernardino ground water basin of Southern California. Several centimeters of uplift were detected during the first half of 1993 in two areas of the basin based on InSAR analysis of ERS-1 and ERS-2 images. This uplift correlates with unusually high runoff from the surrounding mountains and increased ground water levels in nearby wells. The deformation of the land surface identifies the location of faults that restrict ground water flow, maps the location of recharge, and suggests the areal distribution of fine-grained aquifer materials. Preliminary results demonstrate that naturally occurring runoff and the resultant recharge can be used with interferometric deformation mapping to help define the structure and important hydrogeologic features of a ground water basin. This approach may be particularly useful in investigations of remote areas with limited ground-based hydrogeologic data.

USGS, in collaboration with the University of Washington, tested the feasibility of using helicopter-mounted radar equipment that is to measure river discharge. River discharge traditionally has been measured by using sounding weights to determine average river depth and rotating cups to determine river velocity. For these experiments, standard ground-penetrating radar measured river cross-sectional areas, and microwave radar developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, measured river velocity. Preliminary analysis indicates that discharge can be measured within +/-10 percent of the discharge value computed from stage readings at streamflow-gaging stations. Discharge measurements using the radar method were made in an average of about 45 seconds each, compared with several hours using the traditional method. The radar method may have an important application during large regional floods when discharge measurements are needed at many streamflow-gaging stations in a short period of time, or for other applications in which the physical properties of a river need to be defined.

USGS scientists used key predator bird species as part of long-term contaminant monitoring systems to assess the health of large river systems, bays, and estuaries in the United States. In the past, scientists have used bird banding to track where one such species, the American osprey, spent the winter and the routes used to reach wintering sites. Scientists from USGS and the University of Minnesota used NOAA satellites to track osprey migration routes by using small radios. Knowledge about the speed of migration and the location of wintering grounds gained in this way provides a better understanding of contaminant exposure away from the nesting grounds in the United States.

Sandhill cranes migrate through the Platte River valleys of Nebraska, but much is not known about their habitat use and ultimate destinations. During FY 2001, researchers marked 51 cranes with satellite-monitored transmitters attached to plastic leg bands and tracked them continuously from their staging area along the Platte and North Platte Rivers in Nebraska, to their breeding grounds. At the end of the fiscal year, results showed that lesser sandhill cranes staging along the North Platte River breed mostly in Siberia and western Alaska. Data show that most of the midcontinent population was present in late March when the FWS conducted their annual population survey, providing managers with key information on reliability of population size estimates derived from the survey.

USGS biologists completed a pilot study of the year-to-year movements of snowy owls in the Arctic. They used satellite telemetry to map the annual flight paths of adult female snowy owls from Barrow, Alaska, through remote areas and during periods of Arctic darkness. These data would have been impractical or impossible to obtain with traditional tracking methods.

USGS biologists developed methods to predict brood and duckling survival across the extensive Prairie Pothole region of the upper Great Plains by analyzing habitat information in a GIS. They also used satellite radiotelemetry to monitor mallard and gadwall duckling survival rates in relation to wetland and upland habitat conditions. They collected imagery from a digital color-infrared camera to monitor the availability of seasonal wetland habitat and to estimate the percentage of the landscape in perennial vegetation cover. USGS biologists used similar satellite telemetry techniques to determine the survival, dispersal, and long-range movements of prairie falcons from the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, Idaho.

In FY 2001, the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center collected digital, high-resolution black-and-white and color-infrared aerial imagery over approximately two thirds of the Colorado River Ecosystem between Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The USGS has collected aerial imagery annually since 1990 to monitor change in the natural and cultural resources within the ecosystem resulting from the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam. This information is used by the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program to make informed decisions on the operation of the dam that improve the values for which the Grand Canyon National Park and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were created.

USGS scientists cooperated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and a private firm to complete initial high-definition airborne mapping of glacial and bedrock outcrop sites in northern Lake Michigan that are used by lake trout as spawning habitat. Mapping was done with the USACE/Navy Scanning Hydrographic Operational Airborne LIDAR Survey (SHOALS) system that uses a LIDAR sensor to make lake-floor maps in areas too shallow for practical use of conventional sonar systems, such as reefs and near-shore areas. Fishery resource management agencies used this information to determine whether degraded spawning habitat is one of the factors adversely affecting the rehabilitation of trout populations in Lake Michigan.

USGS scientists regularly used GPS in FY 2001 to support scientific research conducted in the Great Lakes basin. Side-scan sonar surveys conducted throughout the Great Lakes basin and habitat-mapping projects in the St. Claire-Detroit River System required GPS technology to locate sample sites and provide geographic reference for biological data. Larval fish habitat preference studies in Lake Erie used GPS to guide repetitive sampling procedures and simplify navigation in open water. GPS was also used for locating field sites while conducting native clam research in several NPS national parks and lakeshores in Michigan and wetland restoration projects in cooperation with FWS on national wildlife refuges in Michigan and Ohio.

USGS scientists used GPS to conduct annual fish stock assessments in all five Great Lakes in cooperation with the international Great Lakes Fishery Commission and State, tribal, and Canadian fishery management agencies. These data are used to make management decisions on fish stocking and harvest quotas to promote the ecological and economic sustainability of Great Lakes commercial, sport, and tribal fisheries. USGS scientists also used GPS to guide studies on the recovery of the burrowing mayfly (Hexagenia) populations in western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron), and Green Bay (Lake Michigan). Hexagenia is an important food source for many kinds of Great Lakes fishes, and its increasing numbers in recent years is an indicator of improving Great Lakes water and bottom sediment quality. In contrast, another important fish food organism is the deepwater amphipod, Diporeia, and its declining numbers were investigated at sites located by GPS in Lakes Ontario and Huron.

USGS scientists on the NASA Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite Science Validation Team worked to determine whether data from the EO-1 satellite could be used to detect and map leafy spurge, an invasive plant species in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Preliminary analysis of multiple data sets collected during the 2001 growing season with the EO-1 Hyperion hyperspectral sensor indicated the feasibility of delineating stands of leafy spurge larger than 30 m in diameter in grassland and badland environments of the park.

USGS scientists used high-spatial-resolution IKONOS satellite data and NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) multispectral satellite data to map small but important and sensitive bird habitat types such as pockets of forested wetlands on islands in the Great Lakes. These features were essentially unidentifiable with other commercially available spaceborne sensors. Protection of Great Lakes island habitats is one of the highest management priorities of the FWS in the Great Lakes region. Landsat ETM+ images were used for project planning and wetland research at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, a very large refuge on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where a USGS/FWS wetland restoration project is ongoing.

USGS and a private company began developing new techniques to monitor infestations of water hyacinth, an exotic aquatic weed infestation that is causing major damage to the ecosystem and economy of the Lake Victoria basin of East Africa. They used RADARSAT, Landsat, and IKONOS satellite data to provide timely information to aquatic plant managers in East Africa. USGS scientists documented a major infestation in Winam Gulf, Kenya, which peaked at 180 km2 of areal extent in November 1998, and subsequently declined to under 1 km2 by February 2000. USGS and the company are helping East African governments to implement an operational monitoring system.

Since 1975, the USGS has chaired the Civil Applications Committee, chartered by the Office of the President, to facilitate the use of classified imagery for applications that are central to many agency missions, such as environmental monitoring, resource management, homeland security, natural hazards, and emergency response applications. USGS continued to support this growing demand through the National Civil Applications Project (NCAP). NCAP staff employed a network of secure national and regional facilities to help users acquire these data for science investigations, and to generate custom and derived products. FY 2001 applications of classified data included glacier monitoring and delineation of glacial karst features; tracking of migration and breeding patterns of animals in remote locations; determining the surface characteristics of sea ice melt ponds; gathering river stage information for flood forecasting; and water quality monitoring.

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